CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 30, 2012

qg_bar_0809_07Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel speaks in many ways about the relationships between non-Christians and Christians, and the messages that the passage implies may not be altogether flattering to us who have accepted the baptism of the Lord. The disciples in this passage from the gospel tell Jesus they encountered a man who was exorcising devils in Jesus’ name. This man was not a disciple of Jesus, and the disciples report they told him to stop his use of Jesus’ name because he was not one of them. There has been a history of triumphalism among Christians, and perhaps the account we read today is the first record of that history.

Human goodness surrounds us, and I have found courageous kindness everywhere is my life, among people who believe in Jesus and among those who do not. Jesus corrects his disciples for believing only those who are numbered among his followers can do good things. Jesus knew, and all of us can witness, that human beings, whether or not they are Christians, are quite capable of much good. God speaks in every human heart, whether or not that heart is attached to a mind that confesses Jesus, and we do well to recognize and celebrate God’s achievements among believers and non-believers alike.

Moreover, we who subscribe to the Lord’s way of life often do not live it, and our way of living becomes a scandal for non-believers. In America in recent decades, many of us Christians have demonstrated such unbridled intolerance that we have made the word Christian synonymous with bigoted and closed-minded. How can we claim to carry Christ’s gospel to the world when our arrogant dogmatism repels the very persons we profess we would attract.

The gospel beckons us to proclaim Jesus with a mind open to goodness wherever it is to be found. Most of us live lives that can carry the gospel to nonbelievers only through the attractiveness of our lives, so it would seem our vocation is to live lives that actually attract people.

Spiritual reading: Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew. (Saint Francis de Sales)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 29, 2012

jesus-with-the-angelsGospel reading of the day:

John 1:47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: On this feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Jesus mysteriously tells Nathaniel that he saw him under the fig tree and Nathaniel then confesses his faith that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus tells Nathaniel that he will see greater things and alludes to Jacob’s dream where Jacob saw the angels climb up and down a ladder between God and humanity. Jesus understood time in relationship to the goal of time, which is the ultimate union of all things with God, so the reference to Jacob’s dream refers to the end times. But he also is speaking to Nathaniel about an immediate interest, what Nathaniel will see over the next several years as Jesus’ ministry unfolds: Jesus himself is the bridge which connects heaven and earth.

Saint of the day: We call the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael “saints” because they are holy. But they are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They protect human beings, and we know something about each of them from the Bible.

ArchangelsMichael’s name means “who is like God?” Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation, and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We ask Michael to make us strong in our love of the Good News.

Gabriel’s name means “the power of God.” He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke’s Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We ask Gabriel to help us to proclaim the Good News.

morgan29Raphael’s name means “God has healed.” We read the story of Raphael’s role in Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God’s throne. We ask Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to the store or school.

Spiritual reading: The soul at its highest is found like God, but an angel gives a closer idea of Him. That is all an angel is: an idea of God. (Meister Eckhart)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 28, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage begins with Jesus praying in solitude. In the stillness, as evidenced by the question Jesus poses to his disciples when he emerges from his meditation, the Lord sits with the issue of who he is. When we still all the interior voices and become empty in the presence of God, in a seamless embrace of I and Thou, we are stripped of all our fantasies and illusions, and naked before God, there is nothing in us but the one whom God sees completely, honestly, lovingly. In surrendering our identity to God, we discover our identity in God.

Saint of the day: Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Manila in about 1600 of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.

His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him.”

At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.

They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.

They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.

The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.

In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.

The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.

Spiritual reading: Peace begins with a smile. (Mother Teresa)

Homily September 30, 2012 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Uncategorized by Fr Joe R on September 27, 2012

In today’s readings, we see Joshua and John troubled, even jealous, because someone was invoking the God’s Spirit or in John’s case invoking Jesus Name. Both were brought to task, by Moses and then by Jesus. Really there is no limiting of the Spirit of God. Certainly Jesus has formed a new family or today we call a Church, but it is not the exclusive and only receiver of the Spirit. In fact, God is everywhere and he speaks and acts where he wills, not always where we expect. If the Spirit speaks through someone with a message we don’t like or want to hear it is easy to say he or she is not one of us. But what if this person invokes Jesus’ name and is true to his teachings. Jesus said: “For whoever is not against us is for us.” Must we not be aware that God speaks and acts where and through whoever he wants. It is up to us to be open and receptive to those who speak out and respond when we hear even painful things. The church today has gone through centuries of division closed off even from God at times and speaking exclusively within itself. The “Little Ones”, the believers following Jesus have at times been harmed and cut off from him by the Church’s being a closed circle excluding what could invigorate it, because of comfort, or single mindedness, or narrow values or beliefs. But is there not an arrogance in circling the wagons to keep Jesus beliefs? Didn’t Jesus call on us to recognize God’s presence all around us? We surely see it in nature, but what about the people we see day to day? Does not God speak through them even at times through their unbelief? Are we open enough to sense and hear his voice wherever it might be?

The sick, the addict, the dying, the distressed all call out for help. Is this not God calling us to bring Christ to them? We have to cut off or remove whatever stands in the way. Believers, followers, all people need to see us as an all encompassing, open, welcoming, listening Church, seeking the Lord where He is and not where we want him to be. After all who are we to limit Him in any way? The Church guides and leads and brings God’s Word and Sacrament, but the power unleashed by these is meant for all of humanity, hopefully to bring them to the loyal church. Anyone seeking God can receive his Spirit and even non believers can be led to Him. Also, let us not forget that God is a forgiving God and rejects no one unless there is the final complete rejection of sinfulness at the very end. But only God knows that. So therefore, we must be ready to hear and extend God’s Spirit and love and forgiveness to all.

What we possess and share, enables our giving of the Spirit. So let us remember God speaks to us and through us especially in our acts of love and sharing of his Word. Let us pray nothing ever stands in the way of that

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 27, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus is like a great reflecting pool. When any of us bend over to peer at the water, we don’t really look at the water but instead focus on our own image. I talk about Jesus a lot, and these conversations occur with both believers and non-believers; I am struck by how consistently people project their own core issues into their understanding of Jesus’ identity. I think that says something wonderful about how big Jesus is, but I also think it presents a spiritual challenge to those who are thinking about him.

In today’s gospel, Herod asks who Jesus is. Later in the gospel, Jesus comes before Herod, and the King wants Jesus, like a circus magician, to perform some tricks for him. We know from elsewhere in the gospels that Herod loved his diversions, and when he looks Jesus in the face, he sees an amusement. When Herod looks into Jesus’ face, he, like so many of us, gets lost in his own illusions and personal issues.

A spiritual life is a life devoted to breaking the illusions which enslave us. God calls us, as the 13th century Bishop Richard of Wyche prayed, to know Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day. We can answer the question of who Jesus really is, and destroy our personal illusions, by long and deep listening through meditation and prayer. God is incompatible with our illusions, and Jesus forms in our minds an image of a God which is both simple and honest. Our coming to know Jesus as he is, and not as we want him to be, means precisely this: that we conform ourselves to God as God is.

Saint of the day: Born at Pouy, Gascony, France, in 1580 into a peasant family, Vincent de Paul died at Paris, September 27, 1660. He made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa, were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology. Ordained in 1600, he remained at Toulouse or in its vicinity acting as tutor while continuing his own studies

saint-vincent-de-paulThe deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent’s eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.” He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

Spiritual reading: It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer…. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. (Vincent de Paul)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 26, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus calls all of us to a poverty of spirit, that is, a position of complete dependence on God. Jesus calls us to a life that assumes God is in charge, and we are creatures created to praise, love, and serve God. Before all else, we depend on God for our happiness and fulfillment. The gospel passage calls us to a radical freedom where we serve God and others without reliance on anything but God’s goodness.

Saint of the day: Today is the memorial of Cosmas and Damian. These two martyrs were twin brothers from Syria who lived in the fourth century. They were very famous students of science and both became excellent doctors. Cosmas and Damian saw Cosmas and Damianin every patient a brother or sister in Christ. For this reason, they showed love to each one and treated their patients to the best of their ability. Yet no matter how much care a patient required, neither Cosmas nor Damian ever accepted any money for their services. For this reason, they were called by a name in Greek which means “the penniless ones.”

Every chance they had, the two saints told their patients about Jesus. Because the people all loved these twin doctors, they listened. Cosmas and Damian often brought health back to both the bodies and the souls of those who came to them for help.

When Diocletian’s persecution of Christians began in their city, the saints were arrested at once. They had never tried to hide their Christian faith. They were tortured, but nothing could make them give up their belief in Christ. They had lived for him and had brought so many people to his love. So at last, they were put to death in the year 303. These martyrs are named in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass.

Spiritual reading: When you live in the false self you are “eccentric,” or off-center. (Richard Rohr)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 25, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The Law of Moses, particularly as practiced in Jesus’ day, revolved around issues of what placed persons inside and outside the Law. Fastidious attention to issues such as dietary restrictions, touching and not touching members of certain classes of people, and cleaning dishes and one’s own body made a believer either acceptable or unacceptable. Jesus makes clear that external and incidental realities, like family ties, don’t touch the core of a person. Being open to God and living the values of the Kingdom are more elemental in our connection to Jesus.

Saint of the day: Born in 1818 to Sicilian nobility, Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet was the son of Marquis Luigi Dusmet. Educated at the abbey of San Martino delle Scales from when he was five-years-old, he became a n38433999278_7697Benedictine monk who made his formal vows on August 13, 1840 at the abbey of Monte Cassino. He taught philosophy and theology in Benedictine houses. A priest Giuseppe was prior of the monastery of San Severino, Naples from 1850 and became prior of the monastery of San Flavio, Caltanissetta, Sicily in 1852. From 1858, he was abbot of the monastery of San Nicolo l’Arena, Catania, Sicily. The monastery was later confiscated by the state soon after the founding of the kingdom of Italy. In 1867, he came archbishop of Catania, Sicily and a cardinal in 1889.

Spiritual reading: In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. (Mahatma Ghandi)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 24, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Being Christian is a great light in the world. If you or turn a light on, we don’t put the lamp in a closet. Instead, we set it in a place where it illuminate the room for anyone who passes through. Today’s gospel passage calls us to give what we receive. It is ironic that we find what it means to be Christian by giving it away: it doubles in being halved. If we hide it, we will lose it or risk never perhaps having had it at all.

Saint of the day: Born on March 1, 1653 at San Severino, FranciscanTauPacificus was the son of Antonio Divini and Mariangela Bruni, both of whom died when Pacificus was about three-years-old. They left him to be raised by an uncle. Pacificus joined the Franciscans in December 1670 and was ordained in 1678. A professor of philosophy, he taught novices and served as a parish missionary. His health failed and he spent his final 29 years lame, deaf, and blind, leading a contemplative life. Pacificus is said to have received ecstasies and been a miracle worker.

Spiritual reading:

There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.

So at night
I set fruit and grains
And little pots of wine and milk
Beside your soft earthen mounds,

And I often sing.

But still, my dear,
You do not come out.

I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside you.

We should talk about this problem—

Otherwise,
I will never leave you alone.
(Hafiz, a Sufi poet)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 23, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The Church calls us on this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time to reflect on a passage redolent with subtle and overt foreboding. Though Mark does not spell it out, the subsequent passages of the gospel suggest that at the start of this passage, that is, with Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, the Lord is leaving Galilee for the last time in his life. The rest of Mark’s gospel shows Jesus on the way to Jerusalem and the events of Jesus’ fateful last week of his ministry. At the same time as Jesus winds down his public ministry in Galilee, he turns his attention to his closest followers: the passage tells us that as Jesus journeys through Galilee, he did not wish anyone to know about it. Jesus doesn’t want to be distracted: often times, as people wind down their lives, they focus their attention more and more on the people who are nearest to them.

There also is overt foreboding as well. For the second time in Mark’s gospel, Jesus predicts to his followers that he will be handed over and killed. Just as they did when Jesus first predicted his death, this second time, the disciples do not understand. Even worse, they seem to regress, because after the first prediction, at least Peter engages the Lord in a conversation, but after this prediction, they are afraid even to question him.

Even so, the passage reveals that Jesus’ warning may not entirely have eluded the disciples: when Jesus and the disciples arrive in Capernaum, Jesus asks them what they were arguing about on the road. In fact, Jesus knows quite well what they were arguing about: the question of who among them is the greatest. Because the question of who is greatest follows the second prediction of Jesus’ passion and because the disciples are embarrassed that Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, some writers have wondered whether the disciples might have been discussing who would take over the group once Jesus died.

But Jesus confounds their expectations about greatness when he tells the disciples that the one who desires to be the greatest is not the one who lords it over others but the one who makes himself the servant of all. Over and over again, the gospels make clear that Jesus availed himself of circumstances to create teachable moments. Obviously, a child was near at hand; at this time and in this culture, a child was not a symbol of innocence but rather, a symbol of powerless and a person devoid of any social status. Jesus calls this youth, totally without influence, over to himself and says that, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.” In Jesus’ day, not unlike oftentimes our own, an emissary enjoyed the benefits of the status of the one who sent him. What Jesus is telling us is that when we receive people who powerless and without influence, we receive him. Jesus’ teaching here is entirely consistent with his sermon at the end of Matthew’s gospel where he says that the elect will say to him:

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?

In last week’s gospel, Jesus invited us to pick up our crosses and follow him. In this week’s gospel, he invites us through our deaths to ourselves to embrace the lives of the most marginalized among us.

Spiritual reading: In prayer all are equal. (Rumi)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 22, 2012

092208_1552_TheParableo1_1Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

savior“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage comes in Luke’s gospel immediately after Luke’s observation that Jesus went about with his companions preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. When Luke presents the parable of the sower, he provides an example of the kind of teaching that Jesus gave to illustrate the nature of the kingdom.

Luke records the parable of the sower of the seed in much the same way that Mark and Matthew relate it, but there is a difference in nuance. While Matthew emphasizes understanding, Luke emphasizes faith and perseverance. In Luke’s account of the parable, everyone hears the word, but Luke is aware that it is possible to lose what one has received. For Luke, our faith in Jesus and the kingdom must not disappear when the Devil comes to test us or when it is choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life; instead, Luke encourages us to nurture our faith and let it bear fruit through perseverance. Membership in God’s kingdom, then, according to Luke’s rendition of the parable, consists of faith and perseverance in faith. The Church ever has taught that we should always pray to persevere to the end, so let us pray for one another.

Saint of the day: Augustinian bishop Thomas of Villanueva was born in 1488 at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, as the son of a miller. He studied at the University of Alcala, earned a licentiate in Thomas of Villanuevatheology, and became a professor there at the age of twenty-six. He declined the chair of philosophy at the university of Salamanca and instead entered the Augustinian Canons in Salamanca in 1516.

Ordained in 1520, he served as prior of several houses in Salamanca, Burgos, and Valladolid, as provincial of Andalusia and Castile, and then court chaplain to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. During his time as provincial of Castile, he dispatched the first Augustinian missionaries to the New World. They subsequently helped evangelize the area of modern Mexico. He was offered but declined the see of Granada but accepted appointment as archbishop of Valencia in 1544. As the see had been vacant for nearly a century, Thomas devoted much effort to restoring the spiritual and material life of the archdiocese. He was also deeply committed to the needs of the poor. He held the post of grand almoner of the poor, founded colleges for the children of new converts and the poor, organized priests for service among the Moors, and was renowned for his personal saintliness and austerities. While he did not attend the sessions of the Council of Trent, he was an ardent promoter of the Tridentine reforms throughout Spain. He died in 1555.

Spiritual reading: Facing outward, human existence is spiritual insofar as it intentionally engages reality as a maximally inclusive whole and makes the cosmos an intentional object of thought and feeling. Facing inward, life has a spiritual dimension to the extent that it is experienced as the project of one’s most vital and enduring self, and it is structured by experiences of sudden transformation and subsequent slow development. (Spirituality, Diversion and Decadence: The Contemporary Predicament by Peter H. Van Ness)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 21, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus is passing by, walking in the midst of what my grandmother might have called cases, people my contemporaries might call, real pieces of work, or what my nieces and nephews might call wild hot messes. Jesus is in the midst of the people of his day who in our day drive drunk and wreck cars, sell their bodies on the streets to smoke crack in alleys, fall in with the wrong crowd and get completely off track. And what does he say to these wild things as he passes among them? It isn’t, “You’re damned,” or, “You’re lost.” He doesn’t even say, “Repent and believe the good news.” He says simply, “Follow me.” He leads not by giving directions but by showing the way.

Saint of the day: The apostle Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. Though the Romans probably did not allow extremes of extortion, their main concern was their own purses. They were not 092_St.Matthewscrupulous about what the “tax-farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners.” So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that “many” tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

The traditional view is that the Gospel of Matthew was composed by Matthew, though modern Biblical scholars widely dismiss the possibility that the apostle Matthew wrote the gospel. Scholars have made several suggestions as to the identity of the author: a converted rabbi or scribe, a Hellenised Jew, a Gentile convert who was deeply knowledgeable about the Jewish faith, or a member of a “school” of scribes within a Jewish-Christian community. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish-Christian, rather than a Gentile.

Spiritual reading: We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. (Anne Lamott)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 20, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”

Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: God loves lavishly, profligately, with complete and utter abandon. Sometimes God’s love keeps people generally on the right track during the course of their lives, and sometimes God’s love allows people to wander but seek forgiveness at the end of their trek. In either case, the debt of gratitude is the same, because if God helps one not to fall apart and steadies others after they have collapsed, it is in both cases God who is doing the work. When we are self-satisfied at our successes, we forget who sustains us. The First Letter of John tells us plainly, “God is love.” The whole message of scripture is that God saves God’s people. It is Love that saves us. Our debt for God’s love is love, but only people who see plainly who loved first are able to respond in kind.

Saint of the day: This first native Korean priest, Andrew Kim Taegon, was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After baptism at the age of fifteen, Andrew traveled thirteen hundred miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged forty-five. Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for an annual journey to Beijing to pay taxes. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found four thousand Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were ten thousand Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.

Andrew, Paul, ninety-eight other Koreans, and three French missionaries were martyred between 1839 and 1867; the universal church now celebrates their witness to Christ. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: forty-seven women, forty-five men.

Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of twenty-six. She was put in prison, pierced with hot awls, and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of thirteen, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a forty-one-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.

Spiritual reading: Beautiful is the moment in which we understand that we are no more than an instrument of God; we live only as long as God wants us to live; we can only do as much as God makes us able to do; we are only as intelligent as God would have us be. (Oscar A. Romero, from the homily he gave minutes before his assassination)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 19, 2012

Christ the KingGospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

“For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating Ever Victoriousand drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: If God is not everywhere, God is not God. There is no place in our lives where God is not there before we get there. This is the key to the good life: it is being able to recognize that God is always speaking to us if only we have ears to hear. God is in John the Baptist who comes to us fasting. God is in the Son of Man who comes to us celebrating. God is in that homeless woman talking to herself as we duck into Starbucks for a cup of coffee. God is in the that new coworker slinking quietly into his cubicle at work. The whole thing is a huge chorus composed by God, a melody for the ears and a feast for the heart waiting to be heard and felt.

Saint of the day: Saint Januarius was a martyred bishop about whom very little is known. According to legendary sources, he died in 305 during the Diocletian persecution of Christians. He was imprisoned while visiting incarcerated deacons at the sulphur mines of Puteoli, the modern Pozzuoli. After many tortures, including being thrown to lions in Pozzuoli’s Flavian Amphitheater, he was beheaded at 200px-SaintJanuariusSolfatara, along with his companions, who were a deacon, a lector, and several friends.

There is little known of the life of Januarius but local Neapolitan tradition says he was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15, he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and St.Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies as young boys. As Bishop of Naples, he performed many miracles. During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught. Unfortunately, while visiting Sossius in jail, he too was arrested. He was placed in a furnace to be cooked alive, he came out unscathed. He was pushed into the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli to be eaten by wild bears, who had not eaten in days. Yet the animals refused to eat them, instead licking their toes. Januarius was beheaded along with Sossius and his companions at Solfatara.

Despite very limited information about his life and works, he is famous for the reputed miracle of the annual liquefaction of his blood, first reported in 1389. The dried blood is safely stored in small capsules in a reliquary. When these capsules are brought into the vicinity of his body on three occasions in the year, the dried blood supposedly liquefies.

image_phpSlfFzKThousands of people assemble to witness this event in the cathedral of Naples. The archbishop, at the high altar amid prayers and invocations, holds up a glass phial that is said to contain the dried blood of the city’s patron saint. When the liquefaction has taken place, the archbishop holds up the phial again and demonstrates that liquefaction has taken place. The announcement of the liquefaction is greeted with a 21-gun salute at the 13th-century Castel Nuovo.

Spiritual reading: The great malady of the twentieth century, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is “loss of soul.” When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. Our temptation is to isolate these symptoms or to try to eradicate them one by one; but the root problem is that we have lost our wisdom about the soul, even our interests in it. (Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore)

Homily September 23, 2012 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Uncategorized by Fr Joe R on September 19, 2012

Last Sunday as you might recall, Jesus spoke of His coming passion and death and actually rebuked Peter calling him “Satan” for having a human understanding of what the Messiah was rather than a spiritual one. He told his Apostles they must leave family and friends and take on a new “family” as his disciples, taking up a new life, and taking up his cross which meant putting up with the slights, rejections, and persecutions that were to come from following Him.

This week, Jesus tells them, a second time in Mark’s gospel, of his coming passion, death, and resurrection, but this time they understand it in a different way. They start talking about who will then be first among them when Jesus is gone. Later on after their journey, Jesus asked what they were arguing about. This was kind of a rebuke as he knew full well what they were arguing about, as 12 men anywhere, walking along the road, would be talking loud enough to be heard as they walked. But notice he wasn’t angry or sarcastic about them wanting to be first, because he wanted each one to give everything he had. Jesus was calling again for them to take up their cross in a new way, by serving each other. The first among them, the leader, will be the one who serves, the one most humble to give up himself for the others. He put a child in their midst, and said they had to be like a child. In their culture, while a child was loved, he was the lowest in the rank of the family. All the elders came first and then the children. So, Jesus is telling them they must serve the lowest of the low. Service even to those who could give nothing back. So you see that in Jesus’ mind humility and service meant from our most intimate friend to the most humble or even a down and out person we meet. No one should escape our service if they are in need. This is the self denial and cross he calls us to. It is not a grand stand call to organize and save the whole world, for that is what God does. No it is for us to do it, one on one, person to person, as the spirit directs our daily life. We must remember that at times our faith and love will exceed our capacity to do but we are called to try all that we can.

Our second reading today warns that jealousy and selfish ambition bring about disorder and foul practices. I’m sure we have all seen how just one person can throw a whole group off course out of simple jealousy or selfishness. The key is humility, giving freely of time and talent and gifts for the work of spreading Jesus’ name. This is the real denial of ourself wwe are called to give because at times it will take what we want and put someone else first.
And His Cross is present in the scorn and rejection we see and experience so often in our society today. So I say today be resolute in carrying on for Christ’s Peace and Joy come to us from following Him.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 18, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Three times in the gospels, Jesus raises the dead. The most widely recognized account of this type of miracle is the raising of Lazarus, whose resurrection account in John’s gospel precedes Jesus’ own passion, death, and resurrection. The Gospel of John is the only gospel to report the raising of Lazarus. All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, report the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Only Luke reports this narrative concerning the raising of the son of the widow of Nain.

This is an interesting account for several reasons. Chronologically in Jesus’ ministry, as the gospels recount it, this raising of someone from the dead is the first time Jesus performs this miracle. In this passage, when Jesus enters a town, he encounters a funeral and sees something which would be tragic in any time or place but is particularly tragic within his own culture. A widow’s only son has died, and she now grieves not only the death of her child but the prospect of life without either a husband or a son to care for her in a world that did not generally respect women. When Jesus happens on this situation, he feels compassion. No one asks Jesus to do anything; he acts completely as a response of his own heart to what he sees. Jesus immediately reacts with empathy to someone who is needy and has no one to look after her. In a way, just as the account of Lazarus’s raising precedes and anticipates Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is a parallel here in this passage with Jesus’ behavior on the cross where he commissions the beloved disciple to care for his mother.

There is another interesting detail in this account. At this point for the first time, Luke refers to Jesus as “Lord,” a title reserved for God himself. In a sense, Jesus reveals himself as Lord, certainly in the power of what he does, but most particularly when love moves him to act. With us it is the same then: we are most like God when we encounter need, are moved to do something, and use the power we have to do something about it.

Saint of the day: Joseph of Cupertino was born on June 17, 1603 as Joseph Desa at Cupertino in Italy. Joseph’s father, Felice Desa, was a poor carpenter who died before the boy was born. Creditors drove his mother, Francesca Panara, from her home, and Joseph was born in a stable. Starting at age eight, he received ecstatic visions that left him gaping and staring into space. He had a hot temper, which his strict mother worked to overcome.

JosephCupertinoAs a youth, Joseph was apprenticed to a shoemaker. At age 17, he applied for admittance to the Friars Minor Conventuals, but was refused due to his lack of education. He applied to the Capuchins and was accepted as a lay-brother in 1620, but his ecstasies made him unsuitable for work, and he was dismissed. Abused by his family, he continued his prayers, and was accepted as an oblate at the Franciscan convent near Cupertino. His virtues were such that he became a cleric at 22 and a priest at 25. Joseph still had little education, could barely read or write, but received such a gift of spiritual knowledge and discernment that he could solve intricate questions.

His life became a series of visions and ecstasies, which could be triggered any time or place by the sound of a church bell, church music, the mention of the name of God or of the Blessed Virgin or of a saint, any event in the life of Christ, the sacred Passion, a holy picture, the thought of the glory in heaven, and so on. Yelling, beating, pinching, burning, piercing with needles – none of this would bring him from his trances, but he would return to the world on hearing the voice of his superior in the order. He would often levitate and float (which led to his patronage of people involved in air travel) and could hear heavenly music.

Even in the 17th century, there was interest in the unusual, and Joseph’s ecstasies in public caused both admiration and disturbance in the community. For 35 years, he was not allowed to attend choir, go to the common refectory, walk in procession, or say Mass in church. To prevent making a spectacle, he was ordered to remain in his room with a private chapel. He was brought before the Inquisition, and sent from one Capuchin or Franciscan house to another. But Joseph retained his joyous spirit, submitting to Divine Providence, keeping seven Lents of 40 days each year, never letting his faith be shaken. He died September 18, 1663 at Ossimo, Italy of an infection.

Spiritual reading: Through our body, we are but a fragment of the universe, a point in space, an instant in the duration of time, a mist, a breath, and the laws governing matter dominate us. Through the Spirit, we can remove ourselves from this servitude and lead a life liberated from space and time. (The Gospel Within by Fr. Maurice Zundel)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 17, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is much that can be written about this narrative, but at its core, it is a healing story that witnesses to the power of the faith of a Gentile, a man who belongs to a nation that Jesus’ people generally hold in lowest esteem: so much so that they deem them to be “unclean.” Yet Jesus says plainly in this gospel passage that he has not found such faith as the centurion’s in all of Israel. The reading reminds us that God can reveal Godself in surprising ways; for this reason, we cannot reject anyone as unfit to manifest the life of God to us. This text teaches us that God can call any individual to show forth God’s life to others.

Saint of the day: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine,” produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Although not yet canonized, Hildegard has been beatified, and is frequently referred to as St. Hildegard. Revival of interest in this extraordinary woman of the middle ages was initiated by musicologists and historians of science and religion.

Hildegard was born the tenth child to a noble family. As was customary with the tenth child, which the family could not count on feeding, she was dedicated at birth to the church. The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of tree, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years.

At age 8, the family sent this strange girl to an anchoress named Jutta to receive a religious education. Jutta was born into a wealthy and prominent family, and by all accounts was a young woman of great beauty. She spurned all worldly temptations and decided to dedicate her life to God. Instead of entering a convent, Jutta followed a harsher route and became an anchoress. Anchors of both sexes, though from most accounts they seem to be largely women, led an ascetic life, shut off from the world inside a small room, usually built adjacent to a church so that they could follow the services, with only a small window acting as their link to the rest of humanity. Food would be passed through this window and refuse taken out. Most of the time would be spent in prayer, contemplation, or solitary handworking activities, like stitching and embroidering. Because they would become essentially dead to the world, anchors would receive their last rights from the bishop before their confinement in the anchorage. This macabre ceremony was a complete burial ceremony with the anchor laid out on a bier.

Jutta’s cell was such an anchorage, except that there was a door through which Hildegard entered, as well as about a dozen of girls from noble families who were attracted there by Jutta’s fame in later years. What kind of education did Hildegard receive from Jutta? It was of the most rudimentary form, and Hildegard could never escape the feelings of inadequacy and lack of education. She learned to read the Psalter in Latin. Though her grasp of the grammatical intricacies of the language was never complete – she always had secretaries to help her write down her visions – she had a good intuitive feel for the intrintricacies of the language itself, constructing complicated sentences fraught with meanings on many levels, that are still a challenge to students of her writings. The proximity of the anchorage to the church of the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg (it was attached physically to the church) undoubtedly exposed young Hildegard to musical religious services and were the basis for her own musical compositions. After Jutta’s death, when Hildegard was 38 years of age, she was elected the head of the budding convent living within cramped walls of the anchorage.

During all these years Hildegard confided of her visions only to Jutta and another monk, named Volmar, who was to become her lifelong secretary. However, in 1141, Hildegard had a vision that changed the course of her life. A vision of God gave her instant understanding of the meaning of the religious texts and commanded her to write down everything she would observe in her visions.

And it came to pass … when I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming… and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books…

Yet Hildegard was also overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and hesitated to act.

But although I heard and saw these things, because of doubt and low opinion of myself and because of diverse sayings of men, I refused for a long time a call to write, not out of stubbornness but out of humility, until weighed down by a scourge of god, I fell onto a bed of sickness.

The 12th century was a time of religious foment, when someone preaching any outlandish doctrine could instantly attract a large following. Hildegard was critical of such perspectives. She wanted her visions to be sanctioned, approved by the Catholic Church, though she herself never doubted the divine origins to her luminous visions. She wrote to St. Bernard, seeking his blessings. Though his answer to her was rather perfunctory, he did bring it to the attention of Pope Eugenius (1145-53), a rather enlightened individual who exhorted Hildegard to finish her writings. With papal imprimatur, Hildegard was able to finish her first visionary work Scivias (“Know the Ways of the Lord”) and her fame began to spread through Germany and beyond.

Around 1150 Hildegard moved her growing convent from Disibodenberg, where the nuns lived alongside the monks, to Bingen about 30 km north, on the banks of the Rhine. She later founded another convent, Eibingen, across the river from Bingen. Her remaining years were very productive. She wrote music and texts to her songs, mostly liturgical plainchant honoring saints and Virgin Mary for the holidays and feast days, and antiphons. There is some evidence that her music and moral play Ordo Virtutum (“Play of Virtues”) were performed in her own convent. In addition to Scivias she wrote two other major works of visionary writing Liber vitae meritorum (1150-63) (Book of Life’s Merits) and Liber divinorum operum (1163) (“Book of Divine Works”), in which she further expounded on her theology of microcosm and macrocosm-man being the peak of God’s creation, man as a mirror through which the splendor of the macrocosm was reflected. Hildegard also authored Physica and Causae et Curae (1150), both works on natural history and curative powers of various natural objects, which are together known as Liber subtilatum (“The book of subtleties of the Diverse Nature of Things”). These works were uncharacteristic of Hildegard’s writings, including her correspondences, in that they were not presented in a visionary form and don’t contain any references to divine source or revelation. However, like her religious writings they reflected her religious philosophy: that humanity is the peak of God’s creation and everything was put in the world for human beings to use. Her scientific views were derived from the ancient Greek cosmology of the four elements (fire, air, water, and earth) with their complementary qualities of heat, dryness, moisture, and cold, and the corresponding four humors in the body-choler (yellow bile), blood, phlegm, and melancholy (black bile).

Music was extremely important to Hildegard. She describes it as the means of recapturing the original joy and beauty of paradise. Hildegard wrote hymns and sequences in honor of saints, virgins, and Mary. She wrote in the plainchant tradition of a single vocal melodic line, a tradition common in liturgical singing of her time. Her music is undergoing a revival and enjoying huge public success.

It is now generally agreed that Hildegard suffered from migraine, and that her visions were a result of this condition. The way she describes her visions, the precursors, to visions, to debilitating aftereffects, point to classic symptoms of migraine sufferers. Although a number of visual hallucinations may occur, the more common ones described are the “scotomata” which often follow perceptions of phosphenes in the visual field. Scintillating scotomata are also associated with areas of total blindness in the visual field, something Hildegard might have been describing when she spoke of points of intense light, and also the “extinguished stars.” Migraine attacks are usually followed by sickness, paralysis, blindness-all reported by Hildegard, and when they pass, by a period of rebound and feeling better than before, a euphoria also described by her. It is a tribute to the remarkable spirit and the intellectual powers of this woman that she was able to turn a debilitating illness into the word of God, and create so much with it. Hildegard feather on the breath of Godwas officially enrolled in the Roman calendar as a saint this last year though she was unofficially considered a saint of the church for centuries. She is to be named a doctor of the church next month on October 7.

Spiritual reading: Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God. (Hildegard of Bingen)